GSV 2019: State of the Tribe update
Sweet GSV siblings,
A new year is upon us, and I wanted to give you an update on what’s happening with Gay Spirit Visions.
January gets its name from Janus, the Greek god who had one face looking forward and another on the back of his head looking backward. It’s an appropriately named month as January, with its post-holiday lull, is a fine time to reflect on the past, reassess, and to reengage with the future.
That is at least as true for organizations like Gay Spirit Visions as it is for individuals, and with that in mind, your GSV Council wanted to give you an update on what our amazing community did in 2018 and what we are looking forward to this year. We feel that it’s important that our community know what’s going on with this organization we hold so close to our hearts, and we hope to make this State of the Tribe letter an annual update so that the members of our magical GSV family, widely scattered as they are, are kept apprised of our efforts on their behalf.
2019 is going to be an amazing year for us. Not only is 2019 going to be the 30th anniversary of Gay Spirit Visions, it will also be the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that launched the modern gay rights movement! The glamorous Cami Delgado will be the Convener of Fall Conference XXX, and we are expecting it to be magical!!!
Looking Back at 2018
In 2018 The Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions worked with Conveners to put on three events: the Winter Meditation “Bringing Darkness to the Light,” convened by Andy Foskey; the Spring Retreat “Embodying Community: Our Big Spring Thing,” co-convened by the GSV Council; and the Fall Conference, “Insatiable Curiosity,” convened by Randy Taylor. Attendance for these events was 164 magical, open-hearted men who came from around the country (and the world!) to be a part of the GSV community.
The Gay Spirit Visions Communities
I like to think of GSV as a movement as much as an organization. Gay men everywhere have a hunger for spiritual connection and the warm community we offer, and that movement has taken, or is taking, shape in communities around the country.
Atlanta, the GSV Mothership, has found itself in a state of flux in recent years. Randall Cumbaa will be hosting a GSV Heart Circle on January 26th, and information about that event can be found on the GSV Facebook page or by contacting Randall. GSV potlucks are happening in the Atlanta area randomly several times a year, and we are always looking for men who would like to host. Also, Randy Taylor has proposed a GSV book group to read Gay Men and the New Way Forward by Ray Riglioso, who is slated to be our keynote speaker at the Fall Conference.
Asheville has a large and vital (if unofficial) GSV community that maintains a close orbit around house parties and monthly massage events at the lovely home of Mahan-Kalpa.
Chicago’s branch of GSV is now in its eighth year. It has hosted a potluck every month since its founding in the fall of 2011. Seven Chicago men attended the Fall Conference in 2018. At various times GSV-C has offered a coffeeklatch as well as a book group, and we currently plan on having a booth at Chicago’s Pagan Pride Fair in September.
The Business of 2018
Last year was a busy year for your council as we worked on preserving our past, refining our processes, and preparing for the future. •2018 saw a huge push to build and refine the GSV archives housed at Georgia State University. The history of GSV is being established and preserved in the form of photographs, video interviews, and ephemera from past conferences. This collection is open to all members of GSV as well as scholars wanting to document the history of our community.
•In June the council finalized a set of bylaws for GSV, which can be found here. (GSV Bylaws)
•Starting with the Fall Conference, the council introduced tiered pricing, which allows you to pay for exactly the housing option you want at our events held up on The Mountain. While the initial announcement of this change was met with concern, the feedback received after the Fall Conference was quite positive, and we will be using the tiered pricing system going forward.
•At the November face-to-face meeting, the council voted to change to how we handle our council fires at the Spring and Fall events. Going forward, the council fire will be allowed to go out at the end of each night, and it will be rebuilt by the Firekeeper every evening at dusk, thereby reducing our carbon footprint and allowing the Firekeeper the luxury of sleeping through the night and not having to get up at 3:00 a.m. to stoke the fire. We will also be obtaining a new urn for the ashes that we gather at the end of the Spring and Fall conferences.
•After noticing that first-time attendees to the Fall Conference were paying for the extra day – and falling through the cracks — the council decided to call that extra day before the Fall Conference an Alumni and Planning Day to clarify what it is and who is most likely to benefit from it.
•Spearheaded by Randall, the council is working on a Policies and Procedures Manual that we expect to finalize at our June face-to-face council meeting.
•After noting a clear pattern of bad corporate behavior by Wells-Fargo, the council voted to move GSV’s funds to a smaller and more ethical financial institution.
The Council of Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions is tasked with bringing the community together for up to three wonderful gatherings a year. The council is not a static thing; its ways are not mysterious, and it is not separate from the community it serves. The council is a living entity comprising members of the community from around the country who love this tribe of men and want to take it to ever greater degrees of success. The council gathers, it works, it plays, it pulses like a loving heart.
And, like any living thing, it changes.
Three of our long-serving council members — Wendell “Fairy Frog Power Princess” Johnson, Doug “Kaptain Krunch” Emerson, and Tony James – reached the conclusion of their three-year terms and rolled off council at the end of December.
Our thanks flow to these extraordinary men for their loving service to our community. They went above and beyond the call of duty for GSV. They were on the council during a particularly challenging period in GSV’s history, and they stayed focused, maintained organizational cohesion, and ensured that GSV is able to continue its mission into the future.
Wendell was not just GSV’s long-term Treasurer, he has also been the tireless champion of the silent auction that funds our financial assistance efforts. Wendell was a mindful and responsible steward of GSV’s funds, and he left the accounts and the scholarship fund in excellent shape for his successors.
Doug has been a diligent member of the Altared Spaces Working Circle and a devoted overseer and defender of GSV’s Facebook page.
Tony James is, and has long been, a HUGE part of GSV’s organizational memory, and his years of diligent service to our tribe — on council and off — have been a truly gracious gift to our community.
The greater GSV community may or may not know how much these men have done for our tribe, but we on the council certainly do, and we are aglow with gratitude.
With departures there come new arrivals. The council met in Asheville in November to vote on new members and to elect new officers. We start this year off by welcoming three intrepid new champions onto the GSV council: Jonny “Mothra” Gray, Mackie Obando, and Randy Taylor.
Jonny “Mothra” Gray began attending GSV at the Fall Conference in 2016. He has attended the Fall Conference and Winter Retreat since then. He has volunteered extensively with the Shauna Pleas Boutique, and he has also helped with sound for the talent show. In the fall of 2017 he took his Faerie name, “Mothra.” In the mundane world, Jonny is a professor of Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University. He is also the host of the community radio (WDBX) show and podcast, “Isn’t It Queer.”
Mackie Obando was born in Lima, Perú and moved to Atlanta in 1996, just in time for the Olympics. He works in the hospitality field, where he enjoys getting to know a variety of cultures.His first experience with GSV was the 2015 Spring Retreat, and he has attended several conferences since. Being in the Parade of Beauties and the Talent Show are his favorite aspects of the GSV experience, followed by the small group experience, which he feels to be enrichment for the soul. Music, singing, dance, and musical theater are few of Mackie’s many passions.
Randy Taylor graduated to GSV from being a Radical Faery. He has been involved with GSV from its inception, and it was he who designed GSV’s iconic dancing men images for one of the early flyers. His spiritual journey has included Christianity, Paganism, Shamanism, Buddhism, Science of Mind, Steampunk, agnosticism, Laconneau, Trance Postures, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. His current practice includes sacred geometry, TM, playfulness, curiosity, and Yoga. His life is a synthesis of all he has experienced so far, and he brings this experience to his service with GSV. He remains a bit of a steampunk Faery, and his drag is costumes. He is semi-retired and lives in East Atlanta, where he recently celebrated a one year anniversary with his partner Cal Gough. Randy was the Convener of the 2018 Fall Conference “Insatiable Curiosity.”
After the changes mentioned above, The Council of Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions for 2019 consists of Kraig “Nightshade” Blackwelder, Bill Harris, Randall Cumbaa, Mahan-Kalpa Khalsa, Bruce “Dandylion” Tidwell, Jason Buchanan, Jonny “Mothra” Gray, Mackie Obando, and Randy Taylor.
The officers are Kraig “Nightshade” Blackwelder (Presiding Elder), Bill Harris (Treasurer), and Jason Buchanan (Secretary).
Note that you can always find a current roster of who’s on council by going to the
participatory leadership page of the GSV website.
Working Circles: Come Play With Us!
The primary purpose of the Council of Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions council is to ensure that GSV produces conferences for this community. Without the support and hard work of our dedicated Working Circles, the GSV council would be powerless to put on the amazing events that we have now been doing for 30 YEARS.
Volunteering with the GSV Working Circles is a fantastic way to build community, to meet new friends, to help create GSV magic, and to ensure the continuation of our magnificent, open-hearted tribe. The Liaisons are the coordinators of their respective Working Circles, and we encourage you to reach out to them if you feel called to dive into GSV for more than the occasional conference. Being on a GSV Working Circle is one of the best ways to keep that GSV magic going all year long!
The current Liaisons for the Working Circles are:
Doug “Kaptain Krunch” Emerson for Altared Spaces
Randall Cumbaa for Archives, Culture, and Traditions
Ralph Fruchtman for Communications
Dev “Trio” Devereaux for Entertainment
Greg “Puck” Fields for Financial Assistance
Michael “Cherry Penetrada” Gilchrist for Gender Freedom and Expression
Neil Burns for Music & Movement
Scotty “Banana Spider” Simons for Rituals & Fire and The Firekeeper is Ken “Fire Bear” Berman
Mahan-Kalpa Khalsa for Sacred Touch
Bill Harris for Small Groups, and
Ted Gulick for Welcome & Hospitality
Facing Forward: Plunging into 2019
GSV is very much a living community, and we are ever looking forward to our next opportunity to gather. We have a Winter Meditation coming up in less than two weeks, a Heart Circle in Atlanta on January 26th, and two other conferences currently in the planning process.
The dates for our conferences in 2019 are: •Winter Meditation: January 18 – 20
•Spring Retreat: April 12 – 14
•Fall Conference: September 19 – 22
Feed the Kitty!
If you would like to contribute to GSV, but find yourself with more money than spare time, donations can be made on the GSV website or by mailing a check to GSV, PO Box 339, Decatur GA 30031. GSV is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to GSV are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
The Community Is You
Native Americans had a saying, “The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.” So it is with Gay Spirit Visions. All that we do is the result of the magic of community and teamwork. You are warmly invited to communicate with the council, to send us feedback, to ask us for what you need from GSV, to tell us of your sweet dreams of community and how our conferences might make those dreams come true. You can reach us at
Council@GaySpiritVisions.org We try to respond to emails within a week.
Thank you for being a member of our amazing community. We hope you like where we’re going.
Warm hugs to all of my GSV siblings! I look forward to seeing you up on The Mountain or wherever our paths may cross.
Nightshade, Presiding Elder
On behalf of the Council of Trusted Elders of Gay Spirit Visions: Bill Harris, Randall Cumbaa, Mahan-Kalpa Kalsa, Dandylion, Jason Buchanan, Randy Taylor, Jonny Gray, and Mackie Obando.